Can Emotions Capture the Elusive Gain-Loss Framing Effect? A Meta-Analysis

Robin L. Nabi*, Nathan Walter, Neekaan Oshidary, Camille G. Endacott, Jessica Love-Nichols, Z. J. Lew, Alex Aune

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

82 Scopus citations


Although recent streams of research have suggested that emotions play a key role in generating framing effects, little is known about the affective dimension of gain and loss framing and its potential impact on persuasion. The current study adopted a meta-analytical approach, synthesizing over 30 years of literature (k = 25, N = 5,772), to investigate this issue. The results indicate that message frame type directs the emotional response elicited in the audience, with gain frames inducing positive emotions (d =.31, p =.02) and loss frames inducing negative emotions (d =.22, p =.001). In turn, the experience of positive emotions enhances the influence of gain frames (b =.18, p =.045), whereas negative emotions augment the effects of loss frames (b = −.70, p =.01). These findings confirm that emotional responses may offer a pathway through which gain- and loss-framed messages exert persuasive influence. The study integrates the results with the emotions-as-frames perspective and proposes several promising avenues for future research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1107-1130
Number of pages24
JournalCommunication Research
Issue number8
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020


  • emotions
  • gain-loss frames
  • message design
  • meta-analysis
  • persuasion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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